So after a good look at my first half of this month, I realized that the greatest challenge I faced was in one word – distractions! Particularly minding other people’s businesses, and having my mornings snatched away from me.
Having a schedule to follow is obviously a great way to manage your time, but sticking to it sometimes could seem to require a bit of divine intervention.
Using myself as a case study, a typical day goes like this;
I create my to do list and schedule my more important tasks. I plan to start my day off with some writing, then just as I come into the office I get a consuming phone call from family or a friend. Dropping that, I find myself dragged into resolving somebody else’s problems, and for the rest of the day I’m putting out other people’s fires and trying to solve problems that are just popping up out of no where. Just like that my well laid plans go up in flames!
Many of us start out our days with a pretty good plan, and a resolve to make the best of our time, but in reality our well meaning intentions are usually short lived.
So how do you prevent your own distractions or the needs of others from impeding your plans?
- Prioritize your tasks by making a list:
This is basically a list of the tasks you need to accomplish for the day arranged in order of importance, difficulty and urgency. This helps you feel less pressure and more in control of your time. It also constantly keeps you mindful of what you have waiting for you to do.
2. Eliminate all interruptions:
This may include unannounced visits from people, calls, emails and so on. Give yourself some time during each day where you restrict all outside interruptions. You absolutely should not start the day with checking emails. Best time to do that is while having breakfast, commuting, at your break time or at a fixed time you set out particularly for it.
Unless its your job, stay as far away from social media as possible!
3. Set targets & deadlines:
If you don’t deliberately make a task a necessity, then it almost always doesn’t get done.
Set a target/deadline for your tasks by deciding for example; a certain task must get done before you have lunch or before you get up from your seat. This will help you focus more on the task at hand.
You can use rewards (i.e lunch) and punishments (i.e not getting up before a certain task is finished) to motivate yourself into much higher productivity levels.
Taking control and effectively managing the first few hours of your day is the trick to becoming far more productive than ever, so give it a real shot and you’ll be surprised where it takes you this year.